In 2004, Western film and TV series enthusiasts were graced with arguably one of the genre’s best series in the recent past with the premiere of Deadwood in 2004. Its creator, David Milch’s ultimate objective was to bring to light how societies evolve from chaotic circumstances into more orderly and civilized states of existence. To this end, he aimed to create and tell a story as close as possible to events that occurred in the heat of the 1870s gold rush in the town of Deadwood before its annexation to South Dakota. A story that would depict the Wild West in its rawest form, froth with crime and corruption as well as people of all moral stripes.
The series features numerous scenes; expletives, vulgarity, brawls, and all forms of violence and unruly behavior. Milch’s objective was no doubt achieved and the series turned out to be a huge success as evidenced by Deadwood’s legions of fans and the eight Primetime Emmy Awards the show won of its twenty-eight nominations.
Milch leaned heavily on the works of historian Watson Parker to gain a firm grasp on the dynamics of Deadwood during the 1870s. Even though as stories like these go, a lot of the historical facts were being augmented with some fair amount of fiction, many of the characters in the series were based on actual people who walked the paths of Deadwood during that period.
For instance, the role of Seth Bullock as performed by Olyphant just like the real Bullock had moved to Deadwood from Montana after a career as a US Marshal to begin a new lease of life as a co-owner and operator of a hardware store with his friend and business partner Sol Star which led him to become a prominent member of the Deadwood community and ultimately its sheriff. Besides Bullock and Star, other characters based on real people include Al Swearengen, E.B. Farnum, George Hearst, and Charlie Utter among a few others. Some of the fictional characters while not based on real people were necessary to make the story as rich as it could be.
Where was Deadwood Filmed?
Most of the episodes of the Deadwood series were filmed at Melody Ranch Studio. Many would agree that the studio which is located at Newhall, California was the perfect site for the set of Deadwood because of its wealth of facilities. Melody Ranch features over 20 acres of production facilities which include an entire Western-style Main Street complete with dozens of storefronts, a saloon, jailhouse, bank, hotels, residences, and other buildings.
Melody Ranch has been around since 1915 and has played host to numerous high profile Western movie stars over the decades including John Wayne, Roy Rogers, and Gary Cooper to name a few. Several hit western feature films and TV series have been filmed there including Last Man Standing, Gunsmoke, Django, The Cisco Kid among many others. A few scenes of Deadwood were also shot at Frazier Park, Santa Clarita, and Azusa all in California.
How Many Seasons and Episodes Are There?
Deadwood aired between 2004 and 2006 and spanned three seasons, each of which consisted of 12 episodes making a total of 36 episodes for the three seasons. Season 1 aired between March and June 2004, season 2 between March and May 2005, and season 3 between June and August 2006.
The series was discontinued almost abruptly after its third season as its producers HBO wanted to turn their attention to other projects. This decision left a large portion of the series’ fan base unhappy with some even going on to campaign for the boycott of other HBO productions. While the HBO management did not yield to a yearning for a full twelve episodes the fourth season, they offered to allow David Milch to write and create a sort of abridged fourth season which would have only six episodes.
However, Milch declined the offer on the grounds that a six-episode season would not do justice to such a rich and complex story as Deadwoods. Consequently, he was given the option to write a two-hour Deadwood movie that would tell the Deadwood story in such a manner that it would be a sort of finale to the earlier three seasons of the TV series. This is the option he took and Deadwood: The Movie was released in May 2019 with a cast made up of several members of the series.